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May 18, 2015

Decision time nears for US gov’t on Oracle vs Google

The Obama administration is locked in wrangling over what stance to take.


Time is running out for the US government to make a decision on whether to take sides in the ongoing court battle between Oracle and Google.

Sources close to the matter have revealed that the administration is still undecided about which stance to take, despite the end of May deadline for a decision.

Oracle sued Google for patent infringement in 2010 over Google’s use of Java to design the Android operating system. The Supreme Court was petitioned by Google to hear the case and on 12 January, the Supreme Court asked the Department of Justice to express the United States’s view.

The US Solicitor General, the government’s primary lawyer before the Supreme Court, provides an opinion on particularly important cases that concern the federal government, with his views given particular consideration by Supreme Court justices.

These debates within the government concern how far copyright can be applied to software, according to the sources quoted in the Reuters report. Yahoo and HP have also filed legal briefs supporting Google.

"The Java platform, which includes code and other documentation and materials, was developed by Sun and first released in 1995," reads Oracle’s complaint, filed in 2010.

"The Java platform is a bundle of related programs, specifications, reference implementations, and developer tools and resources that allow a user to deploy applications written in the Java programming language on servers, desktops, mobile devices, and other devices.

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"Google’s Android competes with Oracle America’s Java as an operating system software platform for cellular telephones and other mobile devices. The Android operating system software "stack" consists of Java applications running on a Java-based object-oriented application framework, and core libraries running on a "Dalvik" virtual machine (VM) that features just-in-time (JIT) compilation.

"Android (including without limitation the Dalvik VM and the Android software development kit) and devices that operate Android infringe one or more claims of each of United States Patents Nos. 6,125,447; 6,192,476; 5,966,702; 7,426,720; RE38,104; 6,910,205; and 6,061,520."

The final decision could have immense implications for software law, as it concerns the question of whether an API can be copyrighted.

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